Editorial: Tools in place to expand local, state economy

Last week, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced that, with five weeks left in the year, 220 companies have decided to expand or create new businesses in Indiana this year.

That, Dan Hasler of the state agency said, is a record, besting the record 219 decisions by companies announced by year-end 2011.

“With nearly five weeks left in the year, 2012 has already broken the state’s all-time record for number of deals won,” Hasler, Indiana secretary of commerce and chief executive officer of the development corporation, said. “This is especially remarkable considering the ongoing concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff’ that have caused many companies to curtail investment plans.”

We’re happy to note several Jackson County projects, thanks in great part to the work of Jim Plump and others involved with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., are among that record number of projects, including, of course, the $219 million expansion announced this spring by Cummins Inc. for its Seymour Engine Plant.

But Cummins isn’t alone here.

Seymour Tubing announced this summer it will invest $20.2 million at its Eastside Industrial Park plant and add 18 jobs. Valeo Sylvania announced investments of $29.5 million and 187 new jobs at its Freeman Field Industrial Park operations. O&k America Corp. announced $9.6 million in investments and three new jobs. Aisin USA Mfg. announced $22 million in investments and 114 new jobs. Pet Supplies Plus announced a $10 million investment and 125 new jobs.

And the list goes on.

The state noted the 220 companies will invest $3.6 billion in their Indiana operations and create 20,866 new jobs in coming years. Cummins expects to add at least 290 jobs — mostly higher paying engineering positions — with its Seymour Engine Plant project.

Overall, the state said, those 20,866 new jobs will pay an anticipated average hourly wage of $22.35, more than the state’s current hourly wage of $19.66.

For those who worry that state and local governments can give up too much to lure new investments, the state reported the average amount of state conditional tax incentives offered to companies on a per job basis is $8,916, down from about $37,000 per job in previous administrations. OK, that’s a plug for Gov. Mitch Daniels, but facts are facts.

Where else are these jobs coming from and going? Hasler cited companies such as Magnetation, Amazon, The Finish Line, Appirio and Toyota, all of which announced multimillion-dollar investments this year and the creation of hundreds of new jobs.

Others include Advanced Metal Technologies’ decision to create 350 new jobs in Jeffersonville and Sweetwater Sound’s plans to expand its Fort Wayne headquarters, adding 316 new workers, according to a news release.

“Indiana is on a hot streak and we have no plans to slow down. We expect many more announcements in the month ahead,” Hasler said.

We congratulate state and Jackson County officials for their hard work on attracting these new investments and for having the right tools and mindset in place that can make such investments become a reality in our communities.

We also look forward to reporting about new local economic development announcements sometime in the first six months of 2013.

Plump said some new projects are in the works, but he doesn’t expect any more announcements this month. He is hopeful of landing those projects in the coming new year.

What do you think? What’s your opinion on this topic? Send your comments to ddavis@tribtown.com. You can find copies of earlier editorials online at TribTown.com.

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